Employers: This Young Technician Has Words for You

June 3, 2024
If you've experienced challenges recruiting or retaining new technicians, you will want to hear what this technician has to say.

Taeler Coverdale, Grand Prize Winner of the 2023 Future Techs Rock Awards, offers insight into the challenges new technicians face.  If you have experienced challenges recruiting or retaining new technicians, you will want to hear what Coverdale has to say.

An open letter to the industry from Taeler Coverdale, Owner of Coverdale Customs

I'm writing to share my experiences and highlight what helped me overcome the challenges I have faced in becoming a collision repair technician. I hope employers like you can use what I have learned to improve how you prepare and welcome other young technicians. Our industry is filled with potential, but there are ways we can do better to support students and new techs. 


Lesson 1: Good Mentorship is Critical

I would have given up a long time ago if not for my mentors Mike and Lisa. In high school, I applied to my district’s vo-tech mechanics program. I didn’t get in, so I applied again. And again. I finally got accepted in my senior year and enrolled in the mechanics and body program.

To my surprise, painting and collision repair were my favorite courses. Mike, my instructor at the time, said he'd never seen someone shoot that well on their first try. It was his encouragement and continued mentorship that inspired me to take my newfound passion more seriously.

Consider adopting a formalized mentorship program within your shop to help newcomers find their footing and grow.

Lesson 2: Prioritize Hands-On Experience

 As I honed my skills, I began taking on small painting projects for friends and family. What started as a hobby soon grew into a thriving side business. I completed commissions on a variety of items, including cars, motorcycles, and even jet skis. Each project was a learning experience. Sometimes, it reinforced what I learned in the classroom, and sometimes it taught me something entirely new. This hands-on experience has been invaluable and fueled my desire to continue improving and diversifying my skills.


Lesson 3: Give Recent Graduates a Chance

My custom painting business has offered a much-needed line of side income, too. In 2023, I graduated from trade school in Texas and returned home to New Jersey to begin my career as a professional technician. Armed with my diploma and classroom experience, I was eager to dive into the industry. However, I quickly discovered that many employers are hesitant to hire first-time technicians.

I urge employers to be more open to hiring young technicians. This industry is grappling with a critical technician shortage. Employers need techs, and young techs need experience. Allowing newcomers to make mistakes and learn from them is essential for their development. It is to your benefit to be willing to take a chance on newcomers and provide us with the practical experience we need to succeed.

Can you really afford to hold out for perfection? Doesn’t it make more sense to build loyalty by giving a young person a chance to learn and grow now? Give us an opportunity, treat us well, and your shop will see the technician shortage evaporate.

Lesson 4: Accept Your Role as a Leader

As a young person in this industry, I have faced challenges. Navigating a male-dominated field as a woman comes with its own set of obstacles, too. The skepticism and disrespect I’ve encountered have strengthened my resolve to continue in this industry, but I am only one person. How many other people have left this career because they didn’t feel welcome?

Employers, you set the tone in your shop. Please lead your teams in a way that creates a welcoming and uplifting atmosphere. We work hard, and it shouldn’t be hard to do our work. Why do we expect people to have thick skin to be a technician?

Final Takeaway: Let’s Shift the Culture Together

I call upon employers to recognize and address the challenges faced by new technicians. Let’s create an industry that values mentorship, provides opportunities for growth, and fosters inclusion. A culture shift like this starts in each and every shop. It’s up to us to set an example for our colleagues. By doing so, we can ensure a vibrant, skilled, and diverse workforce that will drive our industry forward.


Taeler Coverdale

Owner, Coverdale Customs


Taeler Coverdale has appeared on the Cars Yeah! Podcast, and received scholarships from TechForce Foundation, Women Industry Network and Women in Auto Care Scholarship. In March 2023 Coverdale was also named Grand Prize Winner in TechForce Foundation’s Future Techs Rock Awards before completing her technician training in October of that year.

Motor Age, another brand in the Endeavor Business Media Vehicle Repair Group, is partnering with TechForce Foundation to highlight young automotive technicians in the early days of their careers. Motor Age is accepting nominations through June 5 for our 2024 Best Young Tech Award, which honors a technician under the age of 35 who is excelling and moving the industry forward.

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